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Poster: Slewfoot_2012 Date: Feb 25, 2014 9:17am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: 2/24/74

Always loved this show since I first heard it via the GDH back in 1995. Been listening to it regularly ever since. The sound is so crisp and clean. I wrote a review of it for the new DeadBase if that comes to fruition which is below:

For me, this is one of the top shows of ‘74 from first note to last. If there's one “complaint” it's that the show is so long! The song selections are full of both the standard (US Blues, El Paso, Big River) and the exciting (Candyman, Cumberland, Baby Blue), but all well executed. Most versions of songs aren't necessarily my favorite of the year, but they are in the top tier for sure. It's really the tone of the show that distinguishes it. The band seems like it's having so much fun and each song sounds like a party in the form of a nice bear hug. The music is rich and warm and soft whereas in a lot of ‘74 recordings the Wall of Sound made notes on the sharper side.
Bill Graham's intro really sets the tone for the night: "Whatever's going on in the rest of the world be it wars or kidnappings or crimes, this is a peaceful Sunday night with the Grateful Dead." It makes everything feel like a friendly fireside chat, so much so to me that I envision candles on the stage as the primary light source for this evening. The sound quality is also one of the best available soundboards of the year with fantastic separation between each instrument - each note as clear as a bell.

The US Blues immediately sets the tone for this wonderful show. It's chunky and the whole band is synced together from note one. Jerry's guitar is deep and gorgeous while Billy chops away. There are some mix problems for Mexicali Blues which soon balance out. Brown Eyed Women and Beat it on Down the Line are respectable. I especially like the latter due to Billy's groove.

Up next comes the highlight of the set, and really one of the highlights of any first set in ‘74 for me: Candyman. This version is slinky and has amazing depth and a bit of a dark side in its demeanor. The guitar solo is the finest I can recall hearing in this song. Jerry's wah-wah envelops the arena with rippling warmth. It develops into a fantastic peak followed by a flurry of rockin’ notes. The audience seems stunned when the next verse begins. This really needs to be heard if you haven't experienced it as I'm not doing it justice. A fun Jack Straw follows with Bobby's rhythm chords strong and full. China Cat quickly settles into a tight, mellow, funky infectious groove. Jerry's notes following the "waterfall over my back" line sounds like they are doing just that amazingly enough. The next verse begins with a creep and soon enough the transition begins where they are off and running. The music is free and easy and flows right into a lovely Feeling Groovy/Tighten Up jam. The I Know You Rider is also excellent and Jerry belts out his headlight vocals. This version of El Paso stands out to me as it feels so cozy. The Loser that follows has a similar vibe to the Candyman from earlier. Jerry's guitar is crisp and full and his solo is mellow and haunting. A stand-out version in an era of good ones. The set closing Playing in the Band is another excellent version of this classic. The song structure is action packed, quickly dissolving into a forceful space. As Jerry's wah-wah comes in it sounds as if it's chomping its way through the rest of the instruments. This is one of versions that's not too long and not too short and holds your attention the entire time while going through numerous moods.

The second set starts off with one of my all-time favorite Cumberland Blues. It's folky and rockin’ and perfectly placed as the opener. This song has a tendency to liven things up and is something I always enjoy seeing on a set list. A nice, bouncy It Must Have Been the Roses comes next in its second live appearance. Another solid Big River follows that starts a touch more mellow than usual, but steadily builds and builds. A country-tinged Bertha comes next and keeps things flowing. The chords and dense and chunky and keeps one dancing. As another beautiful Weather Report Suite begins it would be easy to think this is where the main jam will stem from, but not on this lucky night. Keith's prominent fender rhodes adds a lovely velvety quality to the Part 1. The Let it Grow shows the band ready to rock as the feel is more aggressive than usual and Jerry adds plenty of Spanish inspired fanning. As the song winds down Bobby throws out a Wharf Rat tease, but Jerry steers the ship into Row Jimmy. Keith's fender rhodes again works wonders here and nicely complements Jerry's deep notes. Another Jerry ballad comes next: Ship of Fools in its second live performance. This version is a bit more upbeat than later ones adding a touch of uniqueness. A surprise mid-set Promised Land is next, which seems more experimental than usual, especially by Jerry.

Some spacey tuning, which the audience catches onto, signals that there's only one way to go from here. Dark Star begins with cymbals from Billy and then both Phil and Jerry introduce the opening notes together. Some Dark Stars sound as if they’re created in an open field, others high in the clouds. This one feels downright cavernous with its eerie setting and Jerry's crisp notes and Billy's quick chops. It soon moves back and forth in pulsating rhythms and then dives back down again. Lots of exploration going on here. Bobby throws out a few Mind Left Body Jam chords, but now's not the time for that as Jerry still needs to play with our minds his way through original twists and turns. Twinkling stars seem to emerge in the cavern as things progress. A jam laced with both space and jazz segues into the first verse. As the lyrics end a delicate, circular space begins. The feeling is similar to 10-19-73, but not as well developed and the band soon meanders into quieter territory that quickly turns dark. Bobby begins the Spanish Jam chords over Jerry's wah-wah chords, which last but a moment. Things then turn a bit festive with a jam that molds into a classic Morning Dew. As good as the Dark Star is, the Dew is probably even better. The vocals are mournful and powerful and the music delicate. The first solo may as well be the second it's so intense. The second solo builds slowly and confidently until all hell breaks loose. Jerry is full of inventive playing as Bobby fans away until eventually they both join together to create a few tremendous peaks.

Jerry's guitar has an especially sweet, deep tone for the Sugar Magnolia that follows. The song blazes and by any normal standards this would be the closer. But right on its heels Jerry starts up a direct and bouncy Not Fade Away. The solo starts to get fiery only to dip down to lend its way to a scorching Goin’ Down the Road Feeling Bad. Amazing they had this kind of energy left. The song comes to a halt and you wonder if that's it, but back into Not Fade Away they go in a more bluesy style than before. When the lyrics kick back in Bobby officially trashes his voice. Good thing they weren't playing the next night. Baby Blue is the perfect, unexpected encore. It's mellow to the point of almost sluggish yet works very well. This is the only version of the year and it's a treat to hear with that great ‘74 sound. An exciting end to a fabulous concert from one of the Dead’s finest years.

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Poster: merryjerry1 Date: Mar 19, 2014 2:23am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: 2/24/74

Slewfoot,

You certainly didn't draw the short straw in getting 2/24/74!

By the way, what is the deal with the next DeadBase? I assume, based on your review, that it is in some stage of development...

Take care,
merryjerry